LETTER : Murdoch and digital television

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The Independent Online
Sir: Polly Toynbee's article about digital terrestrial television and the BBC ("A naive fish in very dangerous waters." 10 March) was full of misconceptions. Here are four.

1. To suggest that switching off analogue ten or more years hence is some drastic event is nonsense. This will only happen if by then the vast majority of the public have chosen to buy digital televisions when replacing current televisions. In the meantime analogue televisions will continue to receive existing channels for years to come.

2. It is wrong to claim that everyone will "have to buy into the digital age with a new black box"; digital television sets will also be available. Neither set-top boxes nor digital televisions will be controlled by one private company as the article suggests. Both of them will be manufactured by many different companies and both will make the free digital services available to viewers as well as subscription channels. And, in the digital age, access for subscription services will be rigorously regulated.

3. Her claim that "Murdoch" will control digital television if British Digital Broadcasting's application is successful is mistaken. "Murdoch" does not own BSkyB. BSkyB does not control British Digital Broadcasting. It has one third of the venture along with Carlton and Granada.

4. British Digital Broadcasting does not propose to use "Murdoch's terrestrial box". We will support a separate box serving our own customers with our own independent subscriber management service and smart card. To avoid confusing customers, this box will also be able to receive digital satellite as well as digital terrestrial channels. This is a good thing.

NIGEL WALMSLEY

Director

British Digital Broadcasting

London SW1

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